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Fitness Instructors Host Charity Zumbathon At JCC

More than 80 women came out to dance for a cause on Sunday, Sept. 9 at the Mid-Island Y JCC Zumba Fundraiser. Four licensed Zumba instructors— Danica Ruhalter, Aja Mills, Amy Bernstein and Beverly Koondel— volunteered their time and expertise to help raise money for leukemia research. The event was held in memory of Spencer Reis, a boy from Plainview who tragically died of the disease earlier this year.

The event raised over $1,000, and organizers say they look forward to holding similar fundraisers in the future. “We felt lucky to be able to be a part of such a great event,” said Ruhalter, who was previously involved in a fundraiser for pediatric cancer held at Oheka Castle. “Remembering not the passing of a young boy, but the life and the happiness of this young boy, his memory living on forever.”

Though increasingly popular as a form of exercise, not everyone is familiar with Zumba. Ruhalter clarifies that Zumba is a Latin dance-based fitness program that can burn between 300 and 1,000 calories per hour.

“It takes you on a cultural journey of the world through dance,” said the instructor, going on to say that the reason that Zumba draws so many devotees is because it’s just plain fun. “You don’t feel like you’re working out…you feel like you’re hanging out with your friends, like you’re out dancing at a club,” she said.

Ruhalter teaches Zumba at several venues throughout the area, such as Lifetime Fitness in Syosset and Attitudes in Motion Dance Studio in Bethpage; all four instructors involved in the Zumbathon normally teach in different places, but came together for a good cause.

Once the JCC, where Bernstein teaches, agreed to host the event, the instructors promoted the event successfully through social media, which they plan to do for similar events in the future. However, those who want to keep tabs on the next Zumba fundraiser can visit The next event, which will hopefully be bigger and better yet, is tentatively planned for January; in the meantime, Ruhalter recommends that people who want to support cancer research donate to the American Cancer Society.

“At the end of the day it’s about raising awareness about cancer research to the community, about fitness, and about the power of dance,” said Ruhalter.